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Five things we learned from Inverness CT v Celtic

Inverness CT emerged triumphant in Sunday afternoon's Scottish FA Cup semi-final, but there were a lot of talking points in the 120 minutes.

Inverness Caledonian Thistle made it to their first ever Scottish FA Cup final with a 3-2 win over Celtic in extra-time, ending the Bhoys’ chances of winning a domestic treble.

The game provided a lot of talking points, mainly based on the inconsistent refereeing decisions either side of half-time which massively changed the shape of the game.

Only extremely obvious penalties get awarded

It would seem that it takes more than a referee and a touchline official to give a penalty unless there are only two players involved.

Possibly one of the most stonewall penalties of the season witnessed by not one, but two match officials wasn’t given at the end of the first-half.

Josh Meekings clearly raised his arm to block Leigh Griffiths' header, with referee Steven McLean having a clear view, but not quite as clear as Alan Muir who was standing by the side of the goal on the touchline.

No-one in the stadium will have had a clearer view than Muir who failed to draw attention to the incident and allowed play to continue, sparking protests from the Celtic players at half-time.

To make it even worse, Craig Gordon was sent off for bringing down Marley Watkins when Adam Matthews sold him short with a back-pass 10 minutes into the second half.

The decision was the correct one but it should have meant each team had 10 men, instead Greg Tansey converted the penalty, and the complexion of the game changed.

The chance of winning the treble is gone

Ronny Deila, and his players, will feel sick that their chances of winning a domestic treble is gone because of poor decision-making that was out of their control.

Even with 10 men, the Bhoys looked dangerous but tired legs started to become an issue the longer the game went on and Caley Thistle eventually found a winner to prevent penalties with just three minutes left.

The pitch makes a difference

The meeting between the teams last weekend was largely dictated by the condition of the Inverness pitch, but the surface at Hampden made for a game that was much easier on the eye.

Caley Thistle showed they can move the ball around on the floor and came close to creating some chances during the early exchanges after some nice passing moves, mainly to be let down by the finishing of Edward Ofere until his goal in the first-half of extra time.

Celtic were also able to pass the ball around although it was a ball over the top that released James Forrest to win a free-kick that led to Celtic’s opener.

Virgil van Dijk is the whole package

The Bhoys centre-back dealt with everything that was throw at him at the back, and scored a stunning free-kick – not for the first time this season – which could easily add a few pounds onto his price tag should he leave Celtic in the summer.

He continued to marshal the defense once his team were reduced to 10 men and showed that he’s got it all with his positioning, strength, speed and goal-scoring ability all on display for his potential suitors to see.

It was a game for mistakes

There were no shortage of individual errors in this semi-final, but just when it looked like Ofere had snatched it for Caley Thistle, another show of poor judgment allowed the score to be levelled at 2-2.

The refereeing mistakes were glaringly obvious and very difficult to watch, but Caley Thistle ‘keeper Ryan Esson had his own moment to forget when he dived too early in the path of John Guidetti’s free-kick, allowing the dipping effort to bounce over him as he lay helpless on the Hampden Park turf.

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